Sutton Council begins forced home sales for Wrythe residents
Legal action has begun to force homeowners to sell their houses to make way for a housing development.
The Lib Dem administration on Sutton Council voted last week to take out compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) against the owners of nineteen homes on land the council wants to redevelop for more housing.
By 2015, the council wants to have knocked down 54 post World War II concrete panelled houses in the Wrythe ward, near Carshalton, and have replaced them with 88 new two, three and four bedroom houses.
They are in a terminal state of disrepair, and will cost tens of thousands of pounds to repair.
Twenty of the homes are owned by people who bought the homes under the Government right to buy scheme who would have their homes knocked down if the development goes ahead.
If they refuse to sell them to the council, the CPOs, which would have to be approved by a Government secretary of state, would force them to sell the house for an agreed price.
The council has doubled its budget for the project’s legal costs to £100,000.
Starting legal action was branded as "extremely insensitive" and "bullying" by Councillor Tony Shields, who is defending the homeowners, saying the action was being taken "far to early" into negotiations with the tight-knit community.
The council has offered homeowners a swap deal where they could have one of the new homes on the site, set to be the same number of bedrooms, and would have their moving costs covered in and out of temporary accommodation.
If they chose to sell their new home, predicted to be of greater value, after five years any profit from a resale would be theirs.
Selling it beforehand would see a percentage of profits go to the council, which has yet to decide if it will pay temporary accommodation costs for the homeowners while the new homes are built.
A council spokesman said although councillors agreed to make the CPOs, it was very much a "last resort" option and the council hoped to continue talking to freeholders in the hope of reaching an agreement, stating the swap option was a generous deal.
The homeowners, many who are elderly, have reservations about the deals' securities, do not want to leave their current homes, and do not want the disruption the housing development will cause to their lives.